Clint Webb failed to mark a box on his application form for the Seattle School District on whether he had a criminal history, but by the time they discovered his past he had successfully completed probation and gotten good evaluations and was retained.
Now he is accused of raping a 14-year-old student and parents and school administrators want to know why he was allowed to continue working around youngsters after his previous convictions were revealed.
When Webb, 39, a hall monitor and locker room attendant, was charged last week with raping a Meany Middle School student, Seattle Public Schools spokesman Randy Carmical said district officials were unaware of Webb’s criminal history.
But on Tuesday, Carmical said he was mistaken. He said archive records indicate the district was aware in 1990 that Webb had been convicted of manslaughter but the information was not kept in his personnel file.
Webb, who also has convictions for forgery and assault, was arrested Aug. 2 after the mother of the 14-year-old girl overheard her talking on a telephone with him about sex, according to court records. The girl later told police Webb had sexual relations with her.
Webb pleaded innocent Tuesday in King County Superior Court to charges of third-degree rape of a child and communication with a minor for immoral purposes.
Webb worked for the school district between 1975 and 1978, then was rehired in 1985 after he served four years in the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton. He was convicted of manslaughter in the death of Robert Moore, who was beaten and strangled and thrown into Elliott Bay.
District officials learned of Webb’s conviction in 1990 when a school employee being terminated for lying on his job application about his prison record told officials about Webb’s prison history.
Webb and a union official met with district personnel director Ray Cohrs, and determined that Webb had not lied when he was rehired but had left the information about his prison history blank on the application form.
“I can only deduce that a determination was made for Webb to continue with his employment,” Carmical said. “In retrospect we may see that as a bad decision.”
Seattle schools legal counsel Michael Hoge said the district is looking into how and why Webb left the “yes” and “no” boxes vacant on the criminal history question on his job application.
“If someone leaves it blank, it should be followed up,” Hoge said. “We don’t know yet how it slipped through. It’s definitely an irregularity.”
By the time Webb’s deception was discovered, he had successfully completed probation and had worked five years with good evaluations from supervisors, Hoge said. There didn’t seem to be any reason to discipline or fire him, Hoge said.
In addition to Webb’s prison term for manslaughter, however, school district officials are concerned that they did not know about Webb’s 1987 conviction for forgery, 1979 and 1984 convictions for assault, and a 1985 conviction for shoplifting.
Hoge said state law allows school districts to disqualify candidates who have been convicted not only of crimes against children but also of other crimes including murder and manslaughter.
But the law applies only to new hires. Webb was hired in 1985, 18 months before the law was passed.
Webb was also hired before a 1992 state law went into effect requiring all new school workers to be fingerprinted and undergo background checks.
Hoge and Carmical said the school district is looking at ways to tighten the system, ranging from seeking new legislation that would authorize or require checks for current employees to voluntary surveys of current employees.
“Even though someone deserves a second chance, I think a violent crime like manslaughter should prohibit someone from working with children,” said Lisa Bond, president of the Seattle Council of the Parent-Teacher-Student Association.
The issue will be discussed at an Aug. 26 PTSA board meeting, Bond said.
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